Utahn Tyson Apostol is headed to the “Survivor: Blood vs. Water” finale with a shot at the $1 million prize. The 34-year-old Provo resident, who has been on on both "Survivor: Tocantins" and "Heroes vs. Villains,” is one of four castaways who have survived 35 days on the island of the 39-day game.
Apostol’s alliance of Gervase Peterson, 43, of “Survivor: Borneo,” and Monica Culpepper, 43, of “Survivor: One World,” voted out Hayden Moss, 26, who won “Big Brother,” during Wednesday’s episode.
Moss will compete against Laura Morett, 43, of “Survivor: Samoa,” and Tina Wesson, 52, who won “Survivor: Australia,” in Redemption Island arena for a spot back in the game.
“I’m threat No. 1, and everyone knows that and I know that,” Apostol said on Day 30 during the Dec. 4 episode. “I’m just trying to play the game and trying to get to the end.”
In this season of “Survivor,” which is at Caramoan Islands in the Philippines, the castaways are 10 returning players and a loved one, including children, siblings, significant others, spouses or a relative. The returning players were originally on the Galang Tribe, and the loved ones were on another tribe, the Tadhana Tribe. Several days ago in the game, the tribes were remixed and new friendships and alliances were formed before the tribes merged into the Kasama Tribe on Day 19.
The addition of loved ones added many twists and layers to the game.
Apostol’s girlfriend, Rachel Foulger, of Provo, was voted out early in the game by her Tadhana tribemates in an attempt to get Apostol, a returned Mormon missionary who served in the Philippines, out of the game. She lost a Redemption Island duel after seven days in the game.
A castaway can switch with their loved one on Redemption Island. Foulger had told Apostol to not switch with her.
“I told myself when Rachel left that if I was going to stay, I had to get to the end,” said Apostol in a rare show of emotion on Day 30. “It’s the only way it would be worth it for me to stay here and not go in when I could have saved her.
“So, I’ve just been fighting and clawing and I’m so close. I still feel like it’s going to get pulled out from under me,” he added. “And I hate that feeling because I’ve worked too hard to get here.”
In “Survivor,” there are physical and puzzle challenges that determine immunity and, at times, reward. Since the tribes merged, all of the castaways will go to Tribal Council, where someone will be voted out and go to Redemption Island. The voted-out players comprise a jury that will observe tribal councils and determine which of the final three will be named “sole survivor” and win the $1 million.
So far, the jury includes Aras Baskauskas, 31, who won “Survivor: Panama”; his brother, 33-year-old Vytas Baskauskas; Caleb Bankston, 26; and Wesson’s daughter, 25-year-old Katie Collins, who lost the Redemption Island challenge to her mom and Morett on Day 33 during Wednesday’s episode. The challenge included tying sticks together to retrieve three keys to open a door. Wesson struggled competing against her daughter and sending her out of the game.
Morett’s daughter, 24-year-old Ciera Eastin, came from behind to win the Immunity/Reward Challenge of following a buoy along a rope and through an obstacle in the water and solving a word puzzle on Day 35 during Wednesday’s episode. She also won the reward of having lunch delivered to camp and picked Moss to join her.
“The great thing about my position right now is that I have nothing to lose,” Eastin said Wednesday.
She had flipped her alliance from Apostol, Peterson and Culpepper to Moss and Collins during the Tribal Council on Day 32 during the Dec. 4 episode, which ended in a tie twice between Moss and Culpepper. So, per the rules of “Survivor,” since they couldn't unanimously decide between Moss or Culpepper, they drew rocks. Moss and Culpepper were safe as was Peterson, who had won the Immunity/Reward Challenge earlier in the day. It was Collins, Eastin and Apostol who drew rocks from a bag; the person who drew the white rock was sent to Redemption Island. Apostol, who had an Immunity Idol in his bag, was last to draw.
He and Eastin drew black rocks and Collins, who drew first, had the white rock and her torch was extinguished.
It was only the second time in 27 seasons of “Survivor” where the castaways drew rocks.
At this point in the game, each player is looking for a way to get to the final three while being mindful of potential jury votes.
During Wednesday’s episode, Moss and Eastin tried to find the Immunity Idol, which Apostol had already found. They also tried to sway Culpepper to voting for Peterson and flip on her alliance with Apostol and Peterson.
“We’re on the bottom, Ciera and me, we get it — it’s two versus three. You feel the pressure,” Moss said of the alliances among the remaining five castaways during an emotional Tribal Council on Day 35. “Sometimes things don’t go your way in the challenges, but there are other aspects of the game you can control.”
Eastin and Moss played on Culpepper’s emotions in trying to sway her to vote with them, and Apostol and Peterson tried to remind her that they trusted her and those things aren’t true.
“I drew rocks because I knew I could trust Monica until the end,” Apostol said as he tried to calm Culpepper.
“No matter how sure you are in your alliance, when you hear things, your mind starts to think about it,” Peterson said. “We saw what happened with Ciera last week. It plays on your mind and it can happens that fast.”
In the end, Culpepper voted with her alliance to send Moss to Redemption Island.
“It’s very clear there is a tight alliance of three and Ciera on the outside,” host Jeff Probst said. “There is one wild card — Redemption Island and who will come back and how will they change the game.”
The “Survivor: Blood vs. Water” finale and live reunion show airs Sunday evening on CBS.
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